Realities of bridge resilience in Small Island Developing States

Mark A. Trigg*, Mohammad Saied Dehghani, Yohannes Y. Kesete, Andrew B. Carr, Stephanie G. Trigg, Dimitrios Zekkos, David Lopez, Marta Pertierra, C. van Westen, V. Jetten, Fred L. Ogden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are acknowledged as particularly vulnerable to extreme climate events; however, the realities for transport infrastructure and bridges are still poorly studied. Assessing bridges in this context can be challenging due to data scarcity, a lack of local standards, and uncertainty due to climate change. While bridges are designed to connect transport networks, they also carry energy, water, and communication networks, making them critical cascading failure points worthy of special attention in terms of risk assessment and resilience measures. We explore what resilience actually means for the design and management of SIDS bridge infrastructure by applying a post disaster forensics and systems approach that is not reliant on complex methods or large amounts of data. To demonstrate the practicality of our approach, we apply it to the island of Dominica, which is regularly impacted by both tropical storms and hurricanes. Our results document the extreme conditions for infrastructure and nearby settlements and the complex interrelated physical processes that occur during these events. We reflect on the implications for design approaches for bridges under these conditions and detail specific recommendations on how the resilience of existing and new bridges can be enhanced through practical measures that are achievable, even within the constraints experienced by those managing bridge infrastructure in SIDS contexts. This work adds to the growing number of studies exploring forensic disaster investigation and systems thinking, but is the first to explore bridge resilience in SIDS.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1
JournalMitigation and adaptation strategies for global change
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • Dominica
  • Resilience assessment
  • River bridges
  • Road infrastructure
  • Small Island Developing States


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